Belinda Bencic battled past Iga Swiatek 7-6 (14-12) 6-3 in a pulsating fourth round contest at the 2021 US Open. The Olympic champion edged an incredible opening set en route to booking a last eight spot in New York for the third time in six career appearances.
The clash in Louis Armstrong Stadium was only the second ever match between the pair. Swiatek eased to a 6-2, 6-2 triumph in the WTA Adelaide final in February in the first meeting.
Belinda Bencic vs Iga Swiatek
Set of the Tournament?
Bencic started strongly as she broke in the opening game, and continued to apply pressure in Swiatek’s service games. The Pole survived five deuces to hold for 1-2, before staving off four break points in her following two service games. World number 12 Bencic dropped just four points in her first four service games, and served for the set at 5-4.
Having failed to secure a double break, the Swiss double faulted at 30-40 to allow Swiatek to convert her first break point and level at 5-5. Bencic then saved a set point at 5-6 with a forehand winner as she held to force a tiebreak – which would last an epic 23 minutes. World number eight Swiatek held another three set points, before Bencic prevailed on her fifth set point when her 20-year-old opponent netted a forehand.
After the first five points went with serve, the 2020 French Open champion gained two mini-breaks to earn a 5-2 lead. Momentum then swung back and forth as 11 of the following 19 points went against serve–including a run of seven in a row until Bencic held to clinch the tiebreak 14-12. The 24-year-old now has a sublime 8-1 tiebreak record this year.
Extending an Impressive Run
The 11th seed had to save a break point to hold for 2-1 in the second set, before she struck by breaking Swiatek in the following game. Bencic held from 0-30 down for 5-2, but did not face another break point en route to sealing a fine victory – with Swiatek firing a backhand wide on her second match point.
The Swiss has not dropped a set in her four triumphs at the tournament, and has now won 13 of her last 14 matches – losing only six sets during the stretch. The run includes Bencic’s Olympic gold medal victory, and a quarter-final appearance in Cincinnati last month – where she fell to countrywoman Jil Teichmann.
Bencic will face Emma Raducanu for the first time in the last eight at Flushing Meadows. She could then meet one of Karolina Pliskova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Maria Sakkari or Bianca Andreescu in a potential semi-final. The Swiss made the last four in her previous US Open appearance in 2019–where she was beaten by eventual champion Bianca Andreescu in two tight sets.
Main Photo from Getty.